On 8 November 2004, the Polish Patent Office received a request from JOOP GmbH on the invalidation of the right of protection for JUUPI! R-103654 trade mark owned by “AQUAREL” Kosiorek Spółka Jawna. The applicant has based its legal interest on the fact that questioned sign is similar to JOOP! R-64463 trade mark, registered on his behalf with an earlier priority, and to international trade mark registration JOOP! IR-739262. The request was based on provisions of Article 165 of the Polish Act of 30 June 2000 on Industrial Property Law – IPL – (in Polish: ustawa Prawo własności przemysłowej), published in Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) of 2001 No 49, item 508, consolidated text of 13 June 2003, Journal of Laws (Dziennik Ustaw) No 119, item 1117, with subsequent amendments.
1. A request for invalidation of the right of protection shall not be admissible:
(i) on the ground that it conflicts with an earlier trademark or the personal or economic rights of the requesting party have been infringed, where the requesting party has acquiesced, for a period of five successive years, in the use of the registered trademark while being aware of such use,
(ii) after the expiration of a period of five years from the grant of the right of protection, where the right in question was granted in breach of the provisions of Article 129, however in consequence of its use the trademark has acquired a distinctive character,
(iii) on the ground that it conflicts with a well-known trademark, where the party entitled to the well-known trademark has acquiesced, for a period of five successive years of the use of the registered trademark, in the use of the latter while being aware of such use.
2. Paragraph (1) shall not apply, where the holder of the right has acquired the right in bad faith.
The PPO dismissed the request. The Voivodeship Administrative Court in its judgment of 13 October 2006 case file VI SA/Wa 1339/06 rejected the appeal filed by JOOP GmbH and upheld the decision of the PPO. JOOP filed a cassation complaint.
The Supreme Administrative Court in its judgment of 5 July 2007 case file II GSK 98/07 held that “being aware of the use of the mark” means that the applicant, who requested for the invalidation based on provisions of article 165 of the IPL, had knowledge about the use of that trade mark by its proprietor. One cannot extend the scope of this statutory condition for “the possibility” or “the duty” to finding out or getting acquitant that such mark is being used by its proprietor. The Court ruled that it’s impossible to accept the existence of a general legal obligation that could be put on entrepreneurs to “track the competition” in order to be aware of the use of different trade marks on the market.